Someone once said that education is the difference between a relatively happy, healthy life, and a life of constant struggle. But without effective and meaningful reform, the cost of innovation that never takes place in education is incalculable. In education, that cost is in human lives.
Earlier this month the ASD announced its year three results, which showed students in the district outpacing the state in math and science and many schools earning the highest possible growth rating for student achievement (Level 5 TVAAS). Shelby County Schools (SCS) also saw growth in math and science, and cited the ASD as a catalyst for district-wide improvement. “The ASD has created this sense of urgency that may not have been there,” SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said in a recent Chalkbeat article.
But the ASD impact extends beyond Memphis, and it is translating into higher student achievement in Priority schools—those in the bottom 5%—across Tennessee. Before ASD intervention in 2012, the proficiency cut off for Priority schools across the state was 16.7%, meaning fewer than 1 in 6 students attending Priority schools were learning on grade level.
From the moment our results were made public, we started hearing chatter about our top 25% goal. Is it feasible? Why was it set? It is still early—we take on new groups of schools each year and two-thirds of our schools are only in their first or second years of operation—but standing where we are today, I absolutely believe in our decision to aim for thetop 25%. Let me take you back to 2011, and tell you why.
Families, teachers and school staff from the five Achievement Schools in Frayser had lots of reasons to celebrate Wednesday. Our Frayser-based neighborhood schools network shared TCAP and Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) data from the 2014-15 school year with the community during the ‘Building the Possible’ rally at Whitney Achievement Elementary School.
Students in the recently launched Achievement School District (ASD)—a statewide school district created to move Tennessee’s bottom 5% schools to the top 25%—showed faster learning gains than their peers across the state in math and science. As a group, ASD schools in their second and third years—the first two “cohorts” of schools to join the ASD—earned the state’s highest possible growth rating, averaging a Level 5 on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).